Diego Maradona, who coached Argentina at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, was present at the stadium during the side’s first two matches in Russia (Pic: IANS).
Argentina’s progress into the knockouts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is not under the control of their players, or star Lionel Messi. That’s a predicament no team would be comfortable with, least of all Argentina, a perpetual pre-tournament favourites.
While the team is busy picking itself up after what has been a less-than-mediocre outing in Russia so far, Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 crown, has demanded access to the team's training ground ahead of the crucial Group D match against Nigeria on June 26.
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"I want to be able to talk to the players and make them understand what it means to wear the national shirt,” the 57-year-old said.
Maradona, who coached the Argentine side at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, was present at the stadium during the side’s first two matches in Russia -- the draw with Iceland on June 16 and the loss against Croatia five days later.
Last week, Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0 in Volgograd, and the result has given Argentina hope -- if the South Americans beat Nigeria, and if Iceland doesn’t win against Croatia, they could go through.
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However, Maradona, who has already made emotional outbursts following the two matches, may not exactly be the right person to talk to the players right now as things could backfire majorly.
Following Argentina's 0-0 draw with Iceland, Maradona slammed the team's performance as a "disgrace". He also warned manager Jorge Sampaoli that he would not be welcome back home if he didn't change his tactics.
Then again, a few spirited words from the legend might be enough to shake the Argentina players out of their lull and finally get them to play as a unit, and with some heart, which seems to be missing from the mix at the moment.
If Argentina get knocked out, it will be the first time they fail to make it through the group stage in 16 years.
(With inputs from IANS)